It wasn't the greatest night on Monday for the Miami Dolphins defense but in the second half when it mattered the most, they came up in a big way and proved that they can rise up to the occasion and make plays when needed. Kevin Coyle said that this was a result of tightening things up at halftime and making the necessary adjustments to get players in better spots.
“We tightened things down quite a bit. We knew we were going to get to the point where, early in a game you go on the basis of what a team has done. They were a running team, but they weren’t exclusively a running team, they were throwing the ball. That was the big issue prior to our game that they threw it too much from what they were saying the week before. We knew they were going to run but we didn’t anticipate that they were going to throw the ball 13 times in the game. Early on, a lot of the things were based on what they had done. By the time we got to halftime and looked at what they were doing, we just, look, we’re going to defend the run and commit to doing X, Y and Z here to stop it, these are our best things. Players knew that, we knew that, we showed it on the overhead at halftime, these are the calls we’re going to make, let’s go stop them, make them have to throw the ball and fortunately we did.”
One player who stepped up to the occasion when it mattered most was Cameron Wake, who had a huge sack to knock the Jets further back in Dolphins territory. The Jets ended up having to punt the ball instead of kicking a field goal, which had a direct result on the outcome of the game. Joe Philbin said that it was Wake and the defense just deciding to step up and make the plays that would determine the outcome of the game. Kevin Coyle said it showed so much about Wake's character and motor.
“It showed a guy, we had talked prior to the game about the importance of there being points in the game where individual players were going to have to step up and make plays. That was something that has been missing a little bit for us at critical times late in games. I think Cam certainly took that to heart. When he came off the ball on that particular play, they had two players trying to block him and he literally ran over the top of both of them with a fierce determination to go and make the sack. He made it up in his mind that he was not going to be blocked. He literally ran through the wall to get to the quarterback and it was a huge play."
"There were other guys during the course of that game that stepped up and did similar things, where we stopped them on the third and one, that was a big play down in deep in our territory, when we stopped them coming off the goal line, those three plays coming off the goal line after we had them backed up coming off the goal line turned out to be a critical series. They actually lost yards on the drive, they punted, we got the ball on the 39 and that was our touchdown drive. You can go back and look at the game and obviously as a defensive coach we’re going to be very critical on the areas that we didn’t do what we know we’re capable of doing. But as I stated earlier in this conference, there were a number of plays in that game that guys made that enabled us to win the game. Cam’s was certainly a highlight one.”
At the end of the game with the Jets driving down the field with under two minutes to go, the defense applied lots of pressure but were also beat on a couple of throws and first downs. Then, with Geno Smith trying to throw long down the middle of the field, Reshad Jones recorded an interception to seal the game.
“The first thing I’d like to say is how proud I am of the way the guys kept their resolve and kept their composure during the course of the game. When we had to come up with plays to win the game, we were able to do that. I think we showed a lot of character and it was, I think, a noticeable growth in our team overall, to be in a game like that. We’ve been in some, maybe not quite the way that game went, but where we weren’t able to keep it together and finish the way we wanted to. I’m really proud of the way they did that in the game. Staying, like I said, composed. Making the adjustments we needed to make and going out there and doing what we needed to do. With that being said, disappointed in the way we started the game. We’ve got to do a better job that way. There’s no question about it. Numerous guys stepped up when we really needed them to. Whether that was in the kicking game or on defense that enabled us to come away with the victory.”
The Dolphins defense will need to come out faster against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday or they're going to find themselves in a big hole early in the game. By that time, it might be too late for the offense to try and catch up.
This story was written by Matthew Cannata. Follow him on Twitter: @PhinManiacs